From “Live at Smalls” to live at The Camel

Six months ago, The Flail performed at The Camel. They will return on Sunday June 19th and if their new record is any indication, this is a must see event.

Seamus Blake, Jimmy Greene, Ari Hoenig, David Kikowski, Steve Davis. The Flail is the newest group to add its name to the impressive list of artists with live records released on smallsLIVE. The live performance record label for Small’s Jazz Club in New York City, smallsLIVE has a quality, established catalog of live recordings, and The Flail’s certainly maintains the tradition.

The article “Hometown hit” covers the history of the band and its connection to Midlothian, VA. The bottom line, the band has been at it for ten years and it shows on their recordings.

Recorded October 8th and 9th 2010, Live at Smalls is the perfect synthesis between swing from the 50’s and 60’s and more modern playing. 21st century jazz records don’t swing like this anymore. The date opens with pianist Brian Marsella soloing over bassist Reid Taylor’s “Mr. Potato.” When the trumpet (Dan Blankenship) and tenor saxophone (Stephan Moutot) join in on the head, Thelonious Monk’s tunes come to mind as the tune’s melody weaves through the changes.

The “straight ahead” sound is lost on the most explorative take on the record. Brian Marsella’s “Better Watch What You Wish For, opens with a powerful piano ostinato in three-four time doubled by the bass. This track displays the compositional abilities of the band while testing the groups ability to perform a multi-metered dynamic piece with singing, solos and very rhythmic bass ostinatos.

Listen to “Better Watch What You Wish For”:

[audio:|titles=Better Watch What You Wish For|artists=The Flail]

Drummer Matt Zebroski’s “Were Not Out of the Woods Yet” is another highlight. The tune starts with a street beat, and seconds later there is a nostalgic feeling six-eight groove that sounds like the closing seconds of the record. Don’t worry, there is still thirteen minutes remaining, the street beat is back. Everyone gets their chance to solo over the extended form before the entire band sings the song and ends on a bang.

As time progresses, there are going to be more and more “bands” in jazz. Instead of _______ quartet and _______ quintet, groups like The Bad Plus, Kneebody, Fight the Big Bull and The Claudia Quintet are becoming popular. Groups whose sound isn’t built around individuals, but rather the way the group comes together and the individual voices of the soloists come out of the collaboration. The Flail fits this mold and in the long run they stand to gain everything from it.

All eight tracks on the record are original compositions by the different members of the band and every members voice is heard as a powerful soloist. The Flail’s “Live at Smalls” is a lesson on group playing, a good listen and a must have, and it can be downloaded for only $7 on smallsLIVE.

Six Months ago The Flail performed in Richmond for a small crowd at The Camel. This Sunday the band will take the stage again. Do not miss the opportunity to see this band.

The Flail will play at The Camel on Sunday, June 19, at 9pm. SCUO (Scott Burton and Scott Clark) will join them. The Camel is located at 1621 W. Broad St. Cover charge is $5. For more information, visit, or view event details.

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Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning, and barbecue sauce.

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